Things you might not know about social media background checks

August 5 2021
3 min read

Should you screen your candidates’ social media profiles or not? That’s a great question with a complicated answer. On the one hand, it would be nice to know if your next potential hire displays toxic behavior online. If so, they may not be the best fit for your company culture. 

At the same time, searching, particularly one that is not done professionally and within the limits of the law, could lead to potential lawsuits and other negative actions.

So before you hop online and start reviewing LinkedIn profiles, it might be wiser to let a background screening company do it for you. Here are some common questions and answers for social media background checks. 

What is a social media background check?

A social media background check is a screen of an applicant’s social media accounts. The report will show what the applicant is like online. 

While no social media search can ever be 100 percent guaranteed, reviewing someone’s online profiles can help the employer see if the applicant would be a good fit for the company. Various social media profiles can be screened though Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the most common.

What laws cover a social media background check?

There’s often some confusion about whether a social media background check is covered by the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). There are two answers. If an employer decides to do a social media search of an applicant, most likely, FCRA does not apply. However, if the employer obtains any information from a credit-reporting agency, FCRA does apply. 

It can get tricky when employers use screening services, which are considered CRAs. That also means the screening service must follow FCRA guidelines for the search process and users of the service. 

Like with other parts of the background check, it’s often best to leave the screening to professionals like Orange Tree. Not only will we provide complete FCRA compliance, but we’ll navigate federal, state, and local laws for you. For example, some state laws dictate how long some information can be reported from the past. Some areas also have laws that say you must notify the candidate of any information used to deny them employment. Federal regulations mandate that you share all information used to take adverse action and not hire someone.

Employers also have to be careful of discrimination claims along with accuracy and laws that cover background checks. 

How do you know you have found the correct profiles?

The truth is you may not know for sure, which is an excellent reason to use a third-party vendor like Orange Tree. There are more than a billion fake accounts on Facebook alone. You can sometimes cross-check information that the candidate provides, like email addresses. But the nature of social media means there’s never a guarantee, even for a LinkedIn profile. 

You can never know with 100 percent certainty that anything you find on a social media profile is accurate or posted by a user. Accounts can be hacked or abandoned. Sometimes people share accounts or passwords. However, you can use a social media background check search to learn more about your candidate with due diligence.


Schedule a call to learn more about Orange Tree's Social Media Screening services today!